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Law New Jersey


Where am I?

Covered conditions
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Terminal cancer
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life.
The following conditions apply, if resistant to, or if the patient is intolerant to, conventional therapy:

  • Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
  • Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The following conditions apply, if severe or chronic pain, severe nausea or vomiting, cachexia or wasting syndrome results from the condition or treatment thereof:

  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Cancer

Is there a fee to register?

  • Yes. The fee for patients and caregivers is $200 each. Patients and caregivers who qualify for the below listed state and federal assistant programs, will be eligible to pay a fee of $20 each; registration period is valid for 2 years.

How much medicinal marijuana can I get approved for?

  • Medical marijuana will be packaged in 1/4 ounce denominations. The patient’s physician will determine the proper dosage; however, the maximum amount allowed by law is 2 ounces in a 30 day period.

Where will a qualifying patient be able to smoke medical marijuana?

  • The Department notes that smoking medicinal marijuana falls within the definition of "smoking" as set forth in the Smoke Free Air Act at N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57, and is therefore subject to the provisions of the Smoke Free Air Act.
Patients may not,

  • Operate, navigate, or be in control of any vehicle, aircraft, railroad train, or stationary heavy equipment vessel while under the influence of marijuana.
Patients may not smoke medicinal marijuana,
  • On a school bus or public form of transportation.
  • In a private vehicle unless the vehicle is not in operation.
  • On any school grounds, in any correctional facility, at any public park or beach, at any recreation center.
  • Any area pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-13.

This is my home state and I figured it would be some good information for anyone else from New Jersey. As you can see the conditions for getting MMJ in this state are quite narrow and specific, but hopefully we will be heading towards a more open system in the upcoming years.
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@Sixstringsmash - good luck up there. I believe that there is an initiative in Delaware to go full rec legal which will put some strain on NJ trying to keep things locked down this tightly, I think.

New Jersey Man (Kind of) Wins Medical Marijuana Insurance Coverage

Health insurance coverage has long been a source of exasperation for medical marijuana patients in the United States. For more than 20 years, mainstream insurance companies have refused to cover anything having to do with cannabis medicine. In Canada, some of the nation’s biggest companies are now moving to include medical marijuana in their employee health care plans. South of the border, though, signs of progress have been few.

So imagine my surprise when I read this recent headline:

Judge: Insurance company must pay for medical marijuana for injured N.J. worker

Insurance coverage for medical cannabis would be a massive step forward, especially for low income patients who struggle to cover the cash-only, out-of-pocket costs of medical cannabis.

In New Jersey, an ounce of medical cannabis sets you back roughly $400 plus tax. Which is why that headline was such bombshell. It almost sounded too good to be true.

Was this the long-awaited breakthrough? Would health insurers finally offer medical cannabis coverage?

Not exactly. But the case does represent a half-step of progress. (cont)
That was a very interesting article thanks for posting it! I wasn't even aware that insurance companies were trying to stiff patients that were entitled to medical Marijuana. That's just wrong! This particular line in the article really stuck out with me:

Faccenda said that his client stopped using marijuana in 2014 because he could not afford to continue paying for it. The insurance carrier continued to pay for his use of opiates to treat his pain. The decision means Watson can resume using marijuana, he said.

It's like hey man, we won't pay for your medical marijuana that your entitled to use, but here's a bunch of opiates instead they're sooooo much better for you. Glad to see its finally working out for the guy though.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Trump administration recently warned about the potential for marijuana to lead to other drug use, but candidates for New Jersey governor are considering embracing efforts to authorize recreational use in the state.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s recent comment that cannabis is a possibly dangerous gateway drug comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is “definitely not a fan” of expanded use.

Nonetheless, New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Legislature plans to move forward with legislation and lawmakers hope Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s successor will sign it.

Christie, who is term-limited, has opposed any expansion of cannabis legalization. His term ends in January.

Industry watchers say they’re optimistic legalization will move forward, even if they are unsure about the pace.

The Issue
Legalization of recreational cannabis has had a double-life in New Jersey. The issue is currently stalled mostly because Christie has vowed to veto any effort to legalize recreational use of the drug. But lawmakers in the Democrat-led Legislature have continued to explore the issue, taking trips to Colorado to examine successes and failures and promising to introduce legislation they hope Christie’s successor will sign. Supporters see legalization as a potential new revenue stream for the state and a way to keep petty drug offenders out of the justice system. Opponents, like Christie and Kelly, see the drug as a gateway to graver addictions and more serious crimes. Still others are skeptical about full-scale recreational legalization but favors decriminalizing cannabis to keep offenders out of jail.

New Jersey currently has a medical marijuana program, enacted shortly before Christie took office in 2010. Proponents of the program say Christie could be doing more to expand the program under the law, like opening more dispensaries.

Candidate Positions and Promises
Democratic front-runner Phil Murphy has said he supports legalization. Former Clinton administration official and attorney Jim Johnson backs legalization in a “safe and regulated manner.” Democratic candidate John Wisniewski, an assemblyman, supports decriminalizing cannabis and creating a legal framework for a market. State Sen. Ray Lesniak says he backs decriminalizing marijuana but isn’t entirely convinced of full legalization.

Republican front-runner Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s spokesman did not respond to a request on her position. Republican candidate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli favors decriminalizing cannabis possession for those who have small amounts, but doesn’t back full-scale legalization. He voted against bills expanding the medical marijuana program. Steven Rogers, a Republican commissioner in Nutley, opposes legalization for recreational marijuana but says he supports medical marijuana programs.

What the Experts Say
Despite the Trump administration’s position, cannabis legalization groups and lawmakers say they’re optimistic about the chances for legalization under the next governor. “We have a very solid shot,” said Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. Rudder sounded more optimistic about the chances for legalization under a Democratic governor but said he is hopeful that Republicans can be persuaded through sharing success stories. He cited Colorado, which has produced about $200 million in revenue for that state.

Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who is a leading proponent in the Legislature, says he is working on legislation that he hopes to introduce soon.

Rudder said he doubts the Trump administration has the resources or the desire to interfere with states — or potentially New Jersey — that market the drug. “We are so far down the path of millions into state coffers and thousands of jobs,” he said.

As I have often stated in these threads, vote early, vote often, vote the bums out of office. Here is a nice guide to who should go (definitely Christie) and who may be reasonable on the MJ legalization issue.
@Baron23 excellent post! Yeah over here in NJ we like to say that if Christie was never governor we would have legalized marijuana years ago. The whole state has been for it for quite some time now but Christie has seemed set to stop anything regarding marijuana dead in its tracks. Here's a nice little article. I hate to get into politics in this forum but here's a good article that outlines just how big a stubborn meatball the guy really is.


Some of my favorite quotes:

"To me, legalization of marijuana for tax purposes -- and that is the only way people justify it -- is blood money,"

"You're damn right I am the only impediment. I'm going remain to be the only impediment until January 18, 2018,"
(his last day in office)

-Chris "meatball" Christie
January 18, 2018

I'm sure there are many counting the days....just counting down one by one with hope in their eyes. He really is a meatball, ain't he?
Christie hammers backers of legalizing marijuana in N.J., calls it 'beyond stupidity'

on May 01, 2017 at 3:08 PM, updated May 02, 2017 at 11:56 AM

PRINCETON -- Gov. Chris Christie on Monday unleashed a diatribe against the increasing push to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, warning that Democrats are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the taxes pot sales will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," the Republican governor, who has long been opposed to legalizing marijuana, said during a speech at a forum on substance abuse hosted by the New Jersey Hospital Association in Princeton.

"We are in the midst of the public health crisis on opiates," added Christie, who has been tapped by President Donald Trump to chair a commission to find ways to fight the opioid abuse epidemic in America. "But people are saying pot's OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything's OK.

"Baloney," he said.

Christie's comments came as leaders of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature are planning to introduce a bill next year that would make New Jersey the latest U.S. state to legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana use. Eleven states and Washington D.C. have voted to make pot legal.

Christie started the screed by noting an editorial that ran in what he called the "idiot" Star-Ledger and on NJ.com this weekend proclaiming that it's "time to legalize weed."

Christie also took aim at state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Union), the main sponsor of the pending legislation; state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who says he'll support it; and Phil Murphy, the Democratic front-runner in this year's governor's race to succeed Christie.

Democrats are hoping the governor who takes over for Christie in January will sign the bill. Murphy is in favor of legalization.

Christie said legalizing marijuana will likely be "priority No. 1" if a Democrat wins the governorship.

"People like Nick Scutari and Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn't matter because people can buy it illegally anyway," Christie said. "Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis. Let's legalize cocaine. Let's legalize angel dust. Let's legalize all of it. What's the difference? Let everybody choose."

The governor, who has often warned that marijuana is a gateway to harder substances, said the "latest data" shows a child who tries marijuana between the ages of 12 and 17 is 10 times more likely to be a heroin addict by the time he is 24.

Christie's office said the data was culled from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Scutari argued that marijuana is actually being used to treat opioid abuse.

"If he's gonna say this is stupid, I'm going to say those comment are idiotic," the senator said of Christie's remarks. "To try to draw some kind of nexus between the two is ridiculous, misplaced, and unscientific."

A study from 2014 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a 25 percent decrease in prescription drug overdoses in states with medical marijuana laws that allow chronic pain patients to participate.

Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey, and a medical panel advising the state Health Department is considering whether chronic pain should be an illness that qualifies people for medical marijuana.

Later, Sweeney told NJ Advance Media: "I think the governor's wrong."

The Senate president said while he supports Christie's crusade against opioid abuse, he and Scutari recently joined a coalition of lawmakers in a trip to Colorado, where pot is legal, and came away impressed.

"The industry is so regulated there," Sweeney said. "It is harder to find it on the corner."

Julie Roginsky, a strategist for Murphy's campaign, said: "It is no surprise that we fundamentally disagree with Gov. Christie on this, as we do on so much else."

Christie also dismissed a recent report that found legal pot would bring $300 million in tax revenue to New Jersey.

"This is the part liberals love," he said. "We can tax it! Sweet Jesus, we can tax it! More money for us!"

But, he argued, $300 million is less than 1 percent of the state's $35.5 billion budget.

"$300 million is a rounding error," Christie said. "We're going to poison our kids for 1 percent more money that they can spend on some God awful, stupid program that they can put in the mailer and send out and say, 'I delivered $300 million more for this.'"

And the governor warned about marijuana shops opening in suburban parts of the state.

"People aren't going to scream when the first head ship opens in Newark or Paterson or Camden or Trenton," Christie said. "But man, I can't wait for the first one to open in Short Hills. ... And what's that mean? It's OK to do this just in our city, with our urban population, but keep it away from our godforsaken suburbs?"

Though recreational marijuana is against federal law, former President Barack Obama's administration chose not to enforce it in states that legalized pot. It's unclear how Trump's administration will handle those states, but proponents are worried because U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he's against it.

During his speech, Christie also called for people to fight for help against drug abuse the way they fought for help amid the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

"Where's the march for the kids who are dying every day?" he asked. "We believe as a society that these people are getting what they deserve."

Christie said government should better education the medial community by creating a required curriculum for physicians and medical providers about the dangers of these drugs; to find alternative pain medications; and to educate students in public schools about this by using programs on their smart phones.

Christie said he plans to travel with the new federal opioid commission to California's Silicon Valley to speak with tech companies like Google, Snapchat, and Twitter about how to wage the battle on social media.

"What will you contribute in terms of communicating to our children in which they'll actually see it and actually listen to it?" the governor said he will ask them. "The days of (Department of Education) pamphlets are over. I'm going to tell the president: Don't waste your money. Let's give the information in that pamphlet to Mark Zuckerberg."

So, Christie is a complete and utter moron. Its not just that he opposes MJ legalization, its some of the blatantly wrong things he asserts, some of them above in this article are just mouth dropping. Please understand, this is NOT a political comment. Noting Chris Christie's idiocy is more a comment on the sad state of the human gene pool than anything else. What an imbecilic. What a cretin. However, after his lousy campaign and being sidelined into this opioid job, he has NO political career left (please god....from my keyboard to your ears haha).
Thanks for these updates @Baron23 , its hard to keep track of everything nowadays. Yes I completely agree with you about the lack of intellect in our behated governer, but the one thing that I find even more stunning than Christies idiocy is this one thing: We voted him in TWICE!
A first-of-its-kind recreational marijuana bill was just introduced in New Jersey

Within the U.S., a number of states could be readying for a run at recreational legalization in 2017 or 2018. However, one of the unlikeliest of candidates, New Jersey, just entered the picture in a big way.

Last week, Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-NJ) introduced a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in The Garden State. Said Scutari, "It's time to end the detrimental effect these archaic laws are having on our residents and our state."

The move to introduce a recreational weed bill is a bit surprising given that Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is one of the most ardent opponents of marijuana's expansion. In fact, during his presidential campaign Christie alluded that federal law would have been reinstated had he won the Republican ticket and national election over the Democratic candidate. In other words, Christie would almost certainly reject a legalization initiative that gets to his desk, assuming approval in the state's legislature.

But, Scutari also notes that he's looking toward the future. New Jersey has a gubernatorial election this November, and plenty of Democrats are lined up in an attempt to unseat Christie. A majority of these leading candidates have voiced their willingness to legalize recreational pot if a measure were brought to their desk.

However, it's not Scutari's forward-thinking bill that makes it so unique -- it's what would (and wouldn't) be legalized.

According to the bill, marijuana products would face a tax for five years ranging from 7% to 25%, and a special regulatory division known as the Division of Marijuana Enforcement would be created to oversee the industry. Adults ages 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, along with 16 ounces of cannabis-infused edibles, 72 ounces of marijuana tinctures, drinks, and oils, and seven grams of concentrates.

Now here's the interesting component of this bill: home cultivation would not be allowed! If passed, it would make New Jersey the first state to legalize recreational marijuana without allowing at least some legal home cultivation.

But with Christie as governor, the chances of this bill passing into law in its current form are slim-to-none. (cont)

So, NJ first has to get rid of Christy in '18 then this will pass and NJ will be full rec. My prediction...cause this state ain't NEVER seen a tax that they didn't embrace and MJ is going to generate revenue, no doubt.
New Jersey’s Primary was a Huge Win for Legalization. Here’s Why

Last night we learned which candidates will vie to replace New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in November’s gubernatorial election. Democrats selected former US ambassador and Goldman Sachs alum Phil Murphy, while Republicans tapped current Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Christie’s second-in-command.

n a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Murphy is the heavy favorite to win in November.

Gov. Christie is among the loudest anti-cannabis voices in the nation and in seven months he’ll be out of office. Which means prospects for major cannabis reforms can only get better.


“Oh definitely,” Murphy spokesman Derek Roseman told Leafly earlier today. “One major hurdle cleared in having a nominee [like Murphy] who recognizes that our current laws have not served us as a society.”

Murphy’s comments in victory underscored that sentiment.

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” Murphy told a cheering crowd. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

For her part, Lt Governor Guadagno wouldn’t push to legalize the adult use of cannabis.

She did say, however, that “we should decriminalize it” during a recent primary debate. Acknowledging the huge disparity in cannabis arrests involving people of color, Guadagno said “no one should suffer because of the color of their skin or because of their social background or because they were picked up with a small quantity.”

After eight years of Chris Christie’s retrograde approach, even Guadagno’s more modest approach represents major progress

“Last night’s primary election moved NJ one step closer to the end of Governor Christie’s term and toward cannabis legalization in the Garden State,” Bill Caruso of NJ United for Marijuana Reform told Leafly. “Cannabis legalization may not be on the ballot this fall in New Jersey, but it will likely play a major part in in this upcoming election.”

That was a common sentiment in Trenton as the dust settled on yesterday’s results.

“Regardless of how you voted, last night was a victory for expanding access to cannabis in New Jersey,” Scott Rudder, President of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association told Leafly. “Both Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy support expanding access to medical cannabis and decriminalization.”

The similarities end there, though.

“Phil Murphy envisions a much larger footprint for the cannabis industry through his consistent and thoughtful approach to legalizing cannabis for adult-use,” Rudder added. “Murphy understands that part of creating greater access includes legalization for adults and fostering an industry that will create tens of thousands of jobs, support small businesses, generate new revenue and strengthen our econom

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Union) chairs NJ’s Senate Judiciary Committee. He sponsored New Jersey’s medical marijuana law and led a delegation of state lawmakers on a fact-finding tour of Colorado last year.

“There is widespread public support both in New Jersey and across the country for legalizing marijuana,” Scutari told Leafly. “In New Jersey, we now have a Democratic nominee, who I believe will be our next governor, who supports legalization. That’s why it is so important that we begin shaping our recreational marijuana program now, so that we are prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely. We’ve already done extensive research on how legal cannabis programs are faring in other states and are continuing the process of working on legislation to create the best recreational marijuana program for New Jersey.”

Rider University political scientist Ben Dworkin was circumspect about the possibility of rapid reforms.

“It’s clear that marijuana legalization is going to be on the agenda of a Democratic administration,” Dworkin told Leafly. “But advocates will still face resistance and the process may be slowed significantly. For example, there may be initial steps like the expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries that will be needed.”

There’s still time to claim bragging rights as the first state to legislatively overturn prohibition (thanks Vermont), but a methodical approach gives time to refine Scutari’s legislation.

“Sen. Scutari’s legalization bill doesn’t permit home grow and that’s particularly burdensome for medical consumers like my daughter Tuffy,” Camden advocate Ricardo Rivera told Leafly. “I look forward to spending the next several months educating both candidates why home grow provisions are so critically important.”

Conservative Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) is New Jersey’s top Tea Partier. He’s got legislation of his own. His wide-ranging legalization bill has it all: homegrow, expungements, the works.

“The proposal I (drafted) simply deletes ALL marijuana rules and laws, save the rule that you have to be 19. Other than that, anything goes. I wanted to treat it more like tomatoes than booze. Our cops have better things to do with their time than police gardening.”

Given NJ’s Garden State pedigree, it’s not a stretch.

Progressive Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) sponsored NJ’s medical cannabis law. To Gusciora, having candidates and politicians from both parties pushing reforms is novel and noteworthy.

“I think we’ll remember the 2017 election as the one that made marijuana legalization politically and socially feasible,” Gusciora told Leafly.
N.J.'s move to legalize marijuana has begun. Here's all you need to know about it.
Although a topic in Trenton for three years, the campaign to legalize marijuana in New Jersey officially begins Monday when a Senate committee will discuss how the potentially billion-dollar industry should be regulated.

So what will it take for you to be able to legally buy recreational pot in New Jersey?

Gov. Chris Christie is vehemently opposed to legalizing marijuana and he has six months left on his final term. And the election for governor will matter for supporters of legalizing pot: Democratic candidate Phil Murphy supports legalization but Republican candidate Kim Guadagno does not.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), the bill's sponsor, said he wants to begin the discussion now to build support among his colleagues in the legislature and across the state.

“Now is the time to begin shaping New Jersey’s recreational marijuana program," Scutari said. "We will have a new governor next year and we should be prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely."

Here's what you need to know about the road to legal pot in New Jersey.

Here's what the legal pot bill would do

Scutari's bill, (S3195) based on visits to Colorado's thriving recreational program would:

  • Decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 50 grams "immediately" and allow people who have been arrested for pot possession to expunge their records;
  • Establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement in the state Attorney General's Office which would create the rules used to govern the legal market of growers and sellers;
  • Allow people to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of edible products infused with cannabis, 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana "concentrate;
  • Impose a sales tax on recreational sales beginning at 7 percent in the first year, climbing to 10 percent in the second year and jumping five percent more each year until it reaches 25 percent. Taxes on medical marijuana would be abolished.
  • Give the five existing medical marijuana dispensary nonprofit groups first crack at selling recreational pot.
Who is for legalizing pot
For now, the proponents of legal pot are the most vocal and active. Several groups have been formed uniting entrepreneurs and civil rights leaders to support the cause in the remaining days of the Christie administration.

They include New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, which funded a report last year showing how much the state could reap in sales tax revenue by legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

“We know that legalizing marijuana will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, the creation of thousands of jobs and a substantial increase in economic activity. It will also mean savings for law enforcement, safer streets, and importantly, a fairer way of treating our residents,” Scutari said. “The benefits are clear, but as part of our work towards legalization, we want to have a robust dialogue...about creating a marijuana program that is best suited for our state."

Who is against it
The true opponents to legalization have not yet revealed themselves, but Scott Rudder, board chairman for the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said he expects the drug and alcohol addiction treatment and the pharmaceutical industries to push for the bill's defeat after the governor's election is over.

"The pharmaceutical industry has fought legal and medicinal marijuana in every state, so has the alcohol and drug rehab centers. All of these are multi-billion-dollar industries," Rudder said.

"It's our job to (explain) the science behind the plan and to make them recognize this is an industry like any other. It is safe and effective in solving the medical issues people need it to – PTSD, (the effects of) chemotherapy," said Rudder, a former Republican state Assemblyman.

What the public says
Scutari's bill arrived May 18 amid a consensus that marijuana is destined to become a legal product like alcohol.

A Rutgers University-Eagleton Institute poll in June 2015 said 58 percent of New Jerseyans favor the legalization of marijuana.

And in the fall, a Gallup Poll found 60 percent of Americans favored making recreational pot legal.

Voters in eight states and Washington, D.C., have approved recreational marijuana, while 29 states and Washington D.C. have approved medical marijuana programs.

Should you be able to grow your own?
Legal marijuana's biggest advocates, including the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey and the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey, are not fully supportive of the bill and are hoping changes are made.

These supporters are angry Scutari's bill does not allow people to grow their own cannabis.

In two separate analyses — one undertaken by The Star-Ledger, the other by the Department of Health — New Jersey's medicinal marijuana is the most expensive in the nation.

Scutari said one lesson he took away from his two trips to Colorado was that the home market is very difficult to regulate and control. Law enforcement has a hard time keeping track of home growers who are producing more than the law allows and selling their crop on the black market.

"I'm not saying I would be against something in the future," Scutari said. "I understand the frustration for people who say this is a plant and they should be able to grow it. But we don’t want these additional policing concerns.

"It creates an entire whole set of issues i don’t want to see us tackle when we are creating a new industry," he added.

Addressing racial disparity in enforcing pot laws
Advocates for legalized marijuana are also frustrated the bill does not address the unfairness of the criminal enforcement of marijuana laws.

Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates but blacks are far more likely to be arrested and convicted for doing so. A study released by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey published Thursday, determined black residents were three times more likely than their white counterparts. The ACLU estimated New Jersey police agencies spend about $143 million per year to enforce the state's marijuana laws, and nine out of 10 arrests targeted marijuana users rather than dealers.

Clergy and community leaders want to see some of the state revenue dedicated to communities disproportionately affected by what they call "marijuana prohibition." They also want to make sure minorities have a fair shot at joining the industry.

“It is imperative that any legislation to legalize marijuana include policies that encourage full participation in the industry by communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and invests some of the revenue generated by legalization back into those communities,” Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, said in a statement.

New Jersey, you just got to 86 Christie first.
Chris Christie calls legal marijuana hearing a “dog-and-pony show”
"I'm not changing my mind on that," said the governor of New Jersey, a longtime opponent of legalizing cannabis

By Michael Catalini, The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey lawmakers’ effort to legalize marijuana has failed to convince Gov. Chris Christie to get behind the change, meaning it will be on the state’s next governor to decide the issue.

Christie ridiculed a hearing last week in the Democrat-led Senate on new legislation making its way through the statehouse to legalize marijuana as a “dog-and-pony show.”

“I’m not changing my mind on that,” said Christie, a longtime opponent of legalizing marijuana.

New Jersey voters go to the polls Nov. 7 to pick the term-limited Republican’s successor and a major issue that the Democrat-led Legislature is punting to the next governor will be marijuana legalization.

Democratic nominee Phil Murphy has come out in favor of legalization, highlighting in particular the potential for up to $300 million in new revenue from taxes on marijuana sales.

Related stories
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the GOP nominee, isn’t as definitive in stating her position. She says she thinks that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opposition to loosening marijuana laws is a problem for legalization.

Christie’s opposition finds him at odds with lawmakers and advocates who he has turned to for support against the opioid crisis.

The New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance, for example, has praised the governor over his support for legislation expanding the use of naloxone to help reverse overdoses. But the same group is also leading the charge for pot legalization, testifying in support of the effort and calling for assurances that those with marijuana arrest and prosecution records are not barred from participating in a potential new cannabis market.

The group’s state director, Roseanne Scotti, says the difference amounts to a policy disagreement, which doesn’t affect collaboration on areas where they agree.

“It’s not awkward,” she said. “It’s like any other relationship with elected officials. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you disagree.”

Christie has reversed himself before on drug-related legislation. In 2013, he vetoed a bill to relax possible criminal violations against those who call law enforcement to report an overdose, but then he later signed the legislation as part of a bigger bill expanding the availability of naloxone.

But such a change doesn’t look likely on marijuana legalization.

A key difference between Christie and supporters of legalization is whether marijuana is a gateway to other drug use. Advocates say it isn’t; Christie disagrees.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that findings on the question are consistent with the idea that the drug is a gateway, but it says that a majority of people who use the drug do not go on to “harder” substances.

As far as the prospects for the legislation go, Christie’s view is hard to overcome.

“The governor seems to be convinced that kids who smoke marijuana today are more likely to be on opioids tomorrow,” said Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale. “That is a debated point but one he has been constant on. For the governor, marijuana is a gateway drug.”

The legislation under consideration would permit possession of up to 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana, 16 ounces (453.58 grams) of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces (2,041 grams) in liquid form and 7 grams of concentrate. It would prohibit home cultivation.

The legislation would also establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement, charged with regulating the industry, and set up a sales tax on marijuana from 7 percent to 25 percent over five years to encourage early participation.

"I'm not changing my mind on that," said the governor of New Jersey. That presupposes he has a mind, yeah? Well, the good news is that nobody gives a flying fuck what Christie thinks. They will elect his successor in Nov and I don't see any political future for the rotund....little fella (see Mom...no insults..sort of).

Seriously, NJ....take heart, you are almost done with this guy.
State gives OK to grow medical marijuana in Secaucus
Submitted by Marijuana News on Mon, 07/31/2017 - 08:45

The Meadowlands — already set to be the home of the state's largest shopping and entertainment complex — will also be the site of the state's largest dispensary of medical marijuana.

Once it opens for business, the dispensary plans to serve up to 4,000 patients a month with a variety of strains of cannabis.

The Christie administration this week issued a permit to grow medical marijuana to Harmony Foundation and will consider issuing a permit to dispense marijuana after the crop is tested later this year.

The nonprofit foundation will operate the 10,000-square-foot facility on Meadowlands Parkway in Secaucus.

"After two years of designing and constructing this state-of-the-art facility, we are excited to finally put it into action," said Shaya Brodchandel, Harmony's president and CEO. The strains selected "are well suited for New Jersey medical patients' conditions and to our unique growing system," he said.


The medical marijuana growing facility for Harmony Foundation, on Meadowlands Parkway in Secaucus. (Photo: courtesy of Harmony Foundation)

New Jersey currently has 13,200 patients registered to purchase medical marijuana, which can prescribed for certain medical conditions only by physicians who have registered with the program.

Medical marijuana in New Jersey is the most expensive in the country, according to Ken Wolski, the head of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. It sells for about $500 an ounce, he said.

The state Legislature has begun considering a measure to legalize recreational marijuana, which is projected to generate as much as $300 million in tax revenue. Phil Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor, has said he favors legalization. That would make it easier to purchase marijuana and would change the environment in which dispensers of medical marijuana operate.

Once the Secaucus center opens, New Jersey will have six marijuana dispensaries, which state officials call alternative treatment centers. The others are in Montclair, Egg Harbor, Woodbridge, Cranbury and Bellmawr in Camden County.


Lights and other equipment at the Harmony Foundation's marijuana growing facility in Secaucus are automated. (Photo: courtesy of Harmony Foundation)

Former Gov. Jon Corzine signed New Jersey's law allowing compassionate use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions in 2010, leaving it for Gov. Chris Christie to implement.

Christie, who vehemently opposes legalization of recreational marijuana, enacted some of the strictest regulations in the nation for medicinal marijuana.

Wolski said he welcomed the new dispensary, but added: "We're very disappointed with the pace of the process." Approval of the sixth center, he said, "is long overdue." The law had anticipated that additional centers would be approved by the state after the first six.

The Health Department says its permitting process for new growers is modeled after the background checks for casino operators.

The examination of Harmony Foundation's executives and funding sources began in December 2014. The leaders and financing have changed since then, said Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, prolonging the vetting process.

"The permit was issued after a comprehensive review, including several site inspections, background checks of its corporate officers and a review of its security operations and cultivation facility," she said.


The medical marijuana growing facility for Harmony Foundation in Secaucus is largely automated. (Photo: courtesy of Harmony Foundation)

Brodchandel, who is 30, has no previous experience in the marijuana industry, but led a company that produced products used in nuclear medicine, a highly regulated industry that prepared him for this role, said Leslie Hoffmann, a spokeswoman for Harmony. He joined the foundation in 2015.

The company's automated, robotic growing system is designed to produce a consistent, high-quality product in an environment where light, temperature, humidity, water, nutrients and carbon dioxide are strictly controlled and tracked, Hoffmann said. It will produce an "extremely consistent, pure product," she said.
New Jersey medical marijuana panel proposes 43 conditions

New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel has recommended that the state’s health department add 43 conditions to the list of illnesses that would qualify patients to receive medical cannabis cards.

Many of the suggested additions are variations of the same condition, Philly.com reported. For example, there are several categories of chronic pain, anxiety, migraines and fibromyalgia, among others.

Other conditions recommended by the panel include arthritis, autism, asthma, opiate-use disorder and irritable bowel syndrome.

New Jersey currently has 12 qualifying conditions, including terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma and the most recent addition, PTSD.

However, if the health department agrees to make additions, they won’t happen anytime soon.

Regulators must allow the public 60 days to comment on the panel’s recommendations from the date they were posted on the state’s website, Philly.com reported.

After that, another hearing is required and only then can recommendations be submitted to the state’s health commissioner for final approval.

Oh, I bet that they just can't wait to get rid of Christy this winter. LOL
"Phil Murphy, with a 25 percentage-point lead in New Jersey’s race for governor, has vowed to legalize recreational pot statewide"

"Kim Guadagno, has said she favors decriminalizing the drug"

If I lived in NJ, I know who I would vote for

Pot at Poker Tables? Democrats Push Weed to Boost New Jersey Finances

New Jersey reaped billions from slot machines and blackjack tables in the decades before casino fever jumped state lines. With Atlantic City’s gambling heyday now past, politicians in the Garden State are aiming to grab marijuana’s riches while neighbors again play catch-up.

Democrat Phil Murphy, with a 25 percentage-point lead in New Jersey’s race for governor, has vowed to legalize recreational pot statewide, and has support from key lawmakers likely to win re-election in November. His Republican challenger, Kim Guadagno, has said she favors decriminalizing the drug, even after serving almost eight years as lieutenant to term-limited Governor Chris Christie, who condemns casual marijuana use and calls its profits “blood money.”

Beyond the political will and public opinion favoring legalization, New Jersey has a financial incentive to beat New York and Pennsylvania for access to a legalized market where North American consumers spent $6.7 billion in 2016. Its pension system is the least-funded among U.S. states, and annual payments are increasing pressure on its budget. New Jersey’s key indicators will trail the nation’s significantly through 2026, with slowing population and job growth, according to a July report by Rutgers University’s Economic Advisory Service.

“It’s the next opportunity for what I see as an employment boom in New Jersey,” said Senator Nick Scutari, a Democrat from Linden whose weed legalization bill had hearings in June, with the understanding that it would be fine-tuned before any voting early next year. Another proposal, by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Trenton, would ask voters to permit pot just in Atlantic City.

Pot Push
Marijuana is outlawed federally, and in New Jersey possession is punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. More than two dozen states, though, including New Jersey, allow consumption for medical purposes, and recreational use is law in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. In August, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill to legalize the drug nationally, even as President Donald Trump’s administration remains opposed and his Republican Party controls Congress.

The New Jersey Libertarian Party last year issued a statement on April 20 -- international “Weed Day” -- declaring that in legalized states, predictions about higher crime and the spread of more powerful drugs haven’t panned out. State chapter leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Latino Action Network told lawmakers in Trenton that minority users are disproportionately penalized, with lives derailed by convictions for what often were youthful indiscretions. Legal experts, including a county prosecutor, testified that enforcement funding would be better spent on public safety.

Public Momentum
Fifty-nine percent of New Jerseyans support possession for adult personal use, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,121 registered voters surveyed from Sept. 7-12. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The state’s sentiment on pot legalization is similar to the 61 percent of Americans who backed it in a CBS News poll conducted in April. Two years earlier, 51 percent supported it. In 1979, eight years after then-President Richard Nixon declared illicit drugs to be “public enemy No. 1,” just 27 percent favored.

Murphy, running for governor after serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany and a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, told a town hall crowd in Lambertville in February that he was “all in to legalize marijuana” on justice merits alone. The financial boost, he said, was a sweetener.

“God knows we need every penny we can find,” Murphy said. “That’s $300 million to $500 million we don’t have at the moment that we could use.”

New Jersey used to count on Atlantic City for instant cash during the decades it was the nation’s second-biggest gambling market behind Las Vegas. Casino revenue peaked in 2006, though, and slid for the next 10 years as gambling came to New York and Pennsylvania, forcing New Jersey to shed five of 12 casinos and 11,000 jobs. Last year, the state tax take was $237 million, just 57 percent of the best year’s payout.

Colorado Trip
New Jersey lawmakers saw a way to undo that damage and then some on a tour of Colorado growers and retailers last year, when that state collected $157 million in taxes on pot sales.

“Colorado went from 40th in job growth to No. 4,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford who was on the trip. “It’s becoming one of the youngest states in the nation -- they have a growth explosion because people are moving there.”


In Pennsylvania, marijuana-related prosperity like that is years off, according to Representative Edward Gainey, a Pittsburgh Democrat. He sponsored the medical-use bill signed by Governor Tom Wolf in April 2016, more than three years after New Jersey dispensaries started supplying the drug to patients.

“It’s too soon for businesses and lobbyists to come in” to advocate for another major marijuana law change, Gainey said in an interview. “Decriminalization would be one step before legalization.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat in a state with a divided legislature, in January proposed decriminalizing marijuana possession, though he remains opposed to legalizing recreational use. Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan who has unsuccessfully pitched a recreational bill three times, said any progress New Jersey makes is likely to push New York.

“It’s not a structural ‘How-the-hell-would-you-do-it?’ legislation,” Krueger said in an interview. “The public is ahead of the political comfort level here.”

In New Jersey, lawmakers and lobbyists said the goal is to have legislation signed within the first 100 days of what they presume will be a Democratic administration. Sales would start about a year later, with particular focus on what other states are doing.

“It’s about the importance of having the right-size market, so you don’t grow so big that you can’t serve the community you seek,” said Scott Rudder, a former Republican state assemblyman who is president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, a trade group. “We saw that with the downsizing of the casino industry. Whatever the blueprint turns out to be in New Jersey, it has to be something that can provide a stable economy from a jobs-, tax base- and revenue-planning perspective.”
“There are people who think when you’re high on marijuana, you’re a better driver,” Lewis said. “That’s not true.”

I can't agree more and I have seen that rubbish attitude expressed many times on vaporizer boards. My come back is "would you want your A-380 pilot or your surgeon high?" and the response I often get is that driving is not surgery. Well, if you wreck and fuck somebody up, there's a good chance somebody will have surgery.

Now, the issue of the grandmother who they say was 'high' when she had her fatal accident, my thought is how the hell they know she was high and not just had MJ metabolites in her system, which is still the issue.

I know I may well get flamed for my view on driving while baked, but in my long years of experience there is NO substance that helps with such skills and that pretty much any intoxicant will in fact negatively impact your driving and increase danger to you and others.

There is one problem with legalizing marijuana in New Jersey, and it's massive

There is no reliable way to test stoned drivers. The consequences could be disastrous.

Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in 2012. Colorado now leads the country in past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds with Washington in sixth place.

In August, a New Jersey grandmother was charged with vehicular homicide in the deaths of her grandkids, ages 5 and 2. Police determined she was high on marijuana when she crashed her car with the children aboard.

The tragedy was horrifying. It might not be isolated.

If New Jersey fully legalizes marijuana under the next governor — a move that frontrunner Phil Murphy supports — there is one nasty side effect we’re ill-equipped to tackle.

In Colorado, weed-related traffic deaths jumped by 48 percent after full legalization there in 2014. The problem: There is no reliable, efficient field test for stoned driving.

“This is not being discussed enough,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs for AAA Northeast and a Mercer County resident.

So, let’s discuss it, because the stakes could not be higher.

A litany of lawsuits?
Thanks to the combination of increased education and the deterrence provided by the breathalyzer test (now the Alcotest), drunken driving fatalities in the U.S. have fallen by a third over the past three decades. That’s thousands of lives saved each year.

But marijuana metabolizes much differently than alcohol.

“It (marijuana) does not reach peak inebriation while it’s in your blood stream,” Lewis said. “It does that when it’s in the fatty tissues in your brain. There’s not going to be a good way to test that.”

Yes there are blood tests, urine tests and oral swabs that can determine if someone has pot in their system. But it’s much harder, and more costly, to determine if it got there two weeks ago or two hours ago.

“Even if they test your urine or blood, you would need to get an expert to pinpoint the timing,” said Michael Polloway, an attorney who handles DUI cases for the Red Bank firm Polloway & Polloway. “In special cases the state could hire an expert toxicologist. They’re not going to do that on a case-by-case basis. The state doesn’t have the resources to hire a $5,000 expert every time.”

The lack of a practical scientific test leaves the determination of impairment to Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) — police officers trained to spot signs of drugged driving.

“The reality is, that’s the best tool we have today,” Lewis said. “The good news is New Jersey has the second-most trained DREs in the country (behind California). The problem is that’s not enough. Even if every police department had one, that one officer isn’t going to work 24 hours a day.”

And those officers’ determinations are more open to scrutiny.

“With the Alcotest, assuming it’s performed correctly, you get a true number. For the most part it’s an objective test,” Polloway said. “With a DRE, these officers are performing a test that really is subjective.”

As an attorney, Polloway said, “When you’re dealing with an officer’s subjective observations, you’re going to take a lot of cases to the mat. It could lead to a backlog in municipal court.”

In other words, the deterrence is weak.

That’s a problem. It’s a problem in Colorado, and it promises to be a bigger problem here, where there are more drivers packed into a much denser map.

A pathetic track record
The best remedy is education. That starts with shooting down the big lie pushed by some marijuana advocates.

“There are people who think when you’re high on marijuana, you’re a better driver,” Lewis said. “That’s not true.”

The vast majority of studies indicate weed impairs drivers, albeit to varying degrees. When coupled with even a modest amount of alcohol, the effect is notably more severe.

In an ideal world, a significant portion of marijuana revenue would bolster enforcement (more DREs) and education. The biggest argument for legalization, after all, is the financial windfall for the state.

Of course, New Jersey has a pathetic track record with such matters. The cigarette tax was supposed to fund anti-smoking initiatives. It doesn’t. Atlantic City’s gaming revenue was supposed to help senior citizens. It didn’t.

Lewis’ organization is trying. AAA is holding an impaired driving summit Dec. 19 in Hamilton. Folks from Colorado will be there, sharing what they’ve learned the hard way.

“Almost every state that has legalized marijuana has not dealt with traffic safety concerns at the same time as legalization,” Lewis said. “That means they are scrambling two, three years later on how to address those concerns.”

New Jersey can learn from Colorado. But first we must acknowledge the obvious: There is a massive downside to lighting up.
After years of the little pudgy jerk-off, Christie, I don't see NJ electing another R Governor right now.

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Candidates Clash On Marijuana Legalization
Candidates vying to be New Jersey’s next lieutenant governor had a heated debated about marijuana legalization on Monday night.

Republican candidate Carlos Rendo, currently the mayor of Woodcliff Lake, tore into his Democratic opponent and her running mate, calling them “the most anti-cop, anti-law enforcement ticket in the history of the state of New Jersey.”

“What are we gonna have here in the state of New Jersey? A bunch of criminals,out in the street, high on pot and protected in a sanctuary state,” he said. “So my question is, what was [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] Phil Murphy smoking when he thought about that platform?”

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, responded that “taxation of marijuana and its sales will be the route to go in.”

Citing polls that show “the residents in New Jersey are on the side of legalization,” Oliver said that Rendo and his gubernatorial running mate Kim Guadagno (who is the state’s current lieutenant governor) don’t go far enough with their plan that endorses simple decriminalization of cannabis possession.

“Decriminalization alone will not allow for regulating,” she said.

The Democrat also decried stark racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana laws.

“There is no broader use of, for instance, marijuana possession by black and brown children,” Oliver pointed out, “but they are treated differently in our criminal justice system.”

Rendo seemed to dismiss the notion that the criminal justice system has racially disparate impacts.

“If you commit a crime, you’re gonna get locked up. Simple as that,” he argued. “Crime is not black, white, yellow or green. A crime is a crime.”

The Republican also gave a shout out to the Reagan administration’s war on drugs as well as a now-infamous TV commercial comparing a smashed egg to the brains of people who consume drugs.

“I grew up during the 1980s, and one of the commercials that had an impact on me was Nancy Reagan’s war on drugs,” he said. “And I remember a commercial that said, ‘This is an egg and this is the egg on drugs.’ That impacted me and there’s a reason why that commercial was done, because of the impact on the adolescent of marijuana use.”
NJ Adds 5 New Qualifying Conditions To Medical Marijuana Program
The NJ Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel has approved the addition of 5 new qualifying conditions. Are migraine sufferers out of the woods yet?

Great news for residents of New Jersey: NJ adds 5 new qualifying conditions to medical marijuana program.

Medical Marijuana in New Jersey
In 2010, on his final day in office, Governor Jon Corzine signed a law passing medical cannabis. He reportedly did this among a “flurry of bills” on his last day in power. But even though the Garden State now had access to MMJ, everything was not coming up roses. The state’s medicinal cannabis program only had 11 qualifying conditions that would allow patients access. Although the law says that the state could add more conditions, the program became notorious for its rigid standards and strict guidelines.

It didn’t help matters that the incoming governor, Chris Christie, proved to be rabidly against cannabis. He even said that medical marijuana was an evil scheme plotted by Democrats to poison children. Even so, he signed a law to allow children access to medical marijuana and even allowed a new addition to the list of qualifying conditions: post-traumatic stress disorder.

Luckily for medical marijuana patients, and everyone else living in New Jersey, Christie is on his way out of office. Either his deputy Kim Guadagno or the Democratic forerunner Phil Murphey will replace him. Both candidates have promised substantial changes to the state of weed in New Jersey.

The New Deal

Yesterday, after months of deliberation, the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel has officially approved five new conditions to qualify patients and allow them access to medical weed. The conditions are as follows:

  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain of visceral origin
Two other conditions were proposed as well. Those conditions were chronic fatigue syndrome and asthma. The panel, however, unanimously vetoed these last two conditions. Sufferers of asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome need not feel hopeless though. There’s always a chance that with the new governor, whoever it may be, there will be another chance to petition for the inclusion of these ailments. If New Jersey voters elect Murphey, and if he makes good on his position to legalize recreational cannabis, everyone (those of age, anyway) will have access to their medicine one way or another.

Final Hit: NJ Adds 5 New Qualifying Conditions To Medical Marijuana Program

We’re not out of the woods quite yet though. Before NJ adds 5 new qualifying conditions to medical marijuana program, one more person needs to voice their approval. That one person is the Health Commissioner, Cathleen Bennett. Hand-picked by Christie, Bennett shares views with the current governor. She has historically opposed legalized cannabis. So she may give final approval if she feels the pressure to do so. But she also might not. She has 180 days to make a definitive move in either direction. We’re sure that the added stress of knowing that this one person could stand in the way of natural and legal relief is not doing any good for the thousands of migraine and anxiety sufferers out there. We sincerely hope that they will be able to find some relief.
If New Jersey Legalizes, Do I Have to Move Back Home?

In Jersey everything’s legal, as long as you don’t get caught.Bob Dylan

I grew up in New Jersey. Both my parents were born in New Jersey. All four of my grandparents lived most of their lives in New Jersey. So spare me your witticisms on the state bird (a middle finger) or the state motto (“screw you”); I’ve heard them all.

Hopefully, in the near future I’ll be able to eat Taylor Ham sandwiches down the shore while (legally) stoned on some nice Pine Barren Kush.
And youse guys ain’t as friggin’ funny as you think.

I reside in California now, but return “home” frequently to visit family and eat Taylor Ham sandwiches down the shore while blasting early Springsteen—album cuts, not just the hits. Hopefully, in the very-near-future, I’ll be able to do so while (legally) stoned on some nice Pine Barren Kush. Because on November 7, the Garden State will elect a new governor, and the latest polls show Democrat Phil Murphy with a commanding lead.

Murphy not only supports pot legalization, he’s promised to sign it into law within the first 100 days of his administration. Polls show a sizable majority of New Jersey voters favor this position, and there’s already wide consensus among lawmakers in the statehouse to make it happen once the current governor leaves office (and more on that asshole later).


Leading NJ gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, seen here debating opponent Kim Guadagno earlier this month, wants to legalize cannabis. Guadagno does not.
Maybe the Phone Calls Will Stop
I’m not planning to move back anytime soon, but I’ll definitely be celebrating from afar if and when legalization happens, including making a lot of congratulatory phone calls to friends I’ve been steadily engaging in civil disobedience with over the last twenty years.

I’ll also be thinking of all the people I personally know who’ve had their lives torn apart by the War on Marijuana. I’ve been writing about cannabis since 2002, and throughout that entire run I’ve gotten two kinds of heartbreaking phone calls with shocking regularity: Somebody I know from New Jersey (or a friend of a friend, or a relative of a friend, or a friend of a relative) has gotten busted, is scared shitless, and doesn’t know who else to call; or someone has been diagnosed with cancer and is scared shitless, and doesn’t know who else to ask about medical marijuana.

It’s been my honor and privilege to help people through those harrowing moments as best I can. But it’s also been a constant and terrible reminder that the horrific injustices of cannabis prohibition rage on—not just in New Jersey, but in much of the country and most of the world. Imagine losing custody of your children for responsible cannabis use. Losing your job or getting kicked out of school or even your home.

Murphy v. Guadagno
In his first debate against Republican challenger Kim Guadagno, Phil Murphy addressed the cannabis issue head on. Legalizing cannabis, he said, should be seen primarily through a “social justice frame,” and as part of “comprehensive criminal justice reform.” Murphy pointed out that New Jersey has the largest racial disparity in its prison population of any state in the nation.

Murphy’s opponent responded by declaring herself “wholly opposed to legalizing marijuana”—an obvious applause line that did indeed elicit a few scattered bits of clapping from the debate crowd, likely because you so seldom hear that sentiment expressed these days, when even a majority of Republicans favor legalization. Of course, immediately after pausing for that applause, Guadagno added some major caveats and disclaimers to what started out as a clear statement.

“I do believe that we can decriminalize [marijuana], and that will solve the social justice issue that was raised,” she said. “I also would expand [New Jersey’s] medical marijuana program—it’s onerous, it’s hard to work with, [and] it’s not available to those that it should be made available to. But the one thing I would not do is legalize a controlled substance and enable drug dealers in a state where we have three times the national average of overdoses as a result of [drugs].”

You know, we have a word for “reasoning” like that in NJ.

We call it bullshit.

Lemme Tell You Somethin’…
For starters, its “drug dealers” that sell cannabis now, and its “drug dealers” that would be put out of business by a robust system of legal sales in the state. (No offense to NJ’s many fine ethical underground cannabis suppliers). Also, nobody’s ever fatally overdosed on cannabis, because it is literally impossible to do so.

Such illogic and false premises are sadly par for the course in America’s great cannabis debate.

What struck me as truly perverse about Guadagno’s statement is that she simultaneously wants credit for being “wholly opposed to legalization” and for solving “the social justice issue” by decriminalizing cannabis and making sure medical patients have access. It reminded me of a classic Steve Martin bit from Saturday Night Live.

“I used to smoke marijuana,” Martin said in a 1978 monologue that’s sadly not on Youtube. “But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening—or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, midevening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early midafternoon, or perhaps the late-midafternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning… But never at dusk.”

‘A Good Networking Opportunity’
Kim Guadagno currently serves as lieutenant governor to Chris Christie, her political mentor, the state’s outgoing governor and one of America’s most outspoken opponents of legalizing cannabis.

“We’re in the middle of an opioid crisis,” Christie told the press back in August, when asked about legalization. “Do we want to send a message that other drugs are okay to take? I just don’t understand the logic there.”

Perhaps “the logic” is that different substances have different risks and benefits. That’s why people don’t stop taking their cholesterol medicine when they see a heroin junkie lying in the street. There, I solved it for you.

But now that you mention it, let’s talk about that opioid crisis. Because Christie is the governor of a state that’s, by any measure, the center of the world’s pharmaceutical industry. When he ran for President in 2016, his campaign received $441,100 in support from Big Pharma, more than Donald Trump. Now he’s chairing Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

A former federal prosecutor and a self-styled “tough guy,” Christie’s approach to taking on Big Pharma so far involves cordially inviting pharmaceutical industry executives to testify before the commission about all the wonderful new profitable drugs they’ve got lined up to help you kick the deadly and addictive drugs they just got everybody hooked on.

As we say in NJ, I shit you not.

USA Today obtained emails showing the executives invited to testify were promised “a good networking opportunity.” When interviewed for a story about how his long and deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry influence his decisions as chair of the opioid commission, Christie spun it as a positive.

“I think that the fact that I have these relationships helps,” Christie told USA TODAY. “Because they know I’m a guy who cares deeply about this issue, and [since] I’m someone they have a long history with, they all came.”

They all came.

‘NJ Making More Arrests Than Ever’
Big Pharma used every trick in the book to get as many people as possible addicted to incredibly dangerous drugs, pocketing massive profits in the process, and the guy in charge of cleaning house is bragging because the kingpins of this massive manufacturing and distribution operation actually did him the honor of showing up in person to his “networking opportunity.”

Police agencies spend $143 million annually on marijuana enforcement in NJ, which doesn’t include lost tax revenue and other societal costs. 90% of arrests targeted users rather than dealers.
Excuse me, Mr. Governor, but I know people in New Jersey who got busted because of a roach in an ashtray. Who were set up by snitches over a half-ounce of weed supposedly sold among friends. Who had their door kicked down in the middle of the night by police officers with their guns drawn because their neighbors down the hall complained about the smell from a few bong hits.

A just-released report from the ACLU shows that “New Jersey is making more arrests for marijuana possession than ever in a manner that is more racially disparate than ever.” The report estimates police agencies spend about $143 million annually on marijuana enforcement in NJ, which doesn’t include lost tax revenue and other societal costs. Around 90% of arrests targeted users rather than dealers.

So basically, fucking with people, at the most granular level.

Ignoring Cannabis in the Opioid Report
Contrast that with the Opioid Commission’s interim report, which emphasized “partnerships” with the pharmaceutical industry, and touted industry-friendly measures like federal money for research (which Big Pharma will pocket), better Medicare and Medicaid coverage for addiction treatment (so taxpayers, not industry, bears the financial burden of addiction), and broader access to naloxone drugs for first responders to treat overdoses (so Big Pharma’s best customers don’t keep dropping dead all of a sudden).

At a press conference announcing the release of the interim report, Christie boasted that the commission had received “more than 8,000 comments from the public,” calling the high volume of responses an “indication there is a real passion out there in the country for getting this done.” But he neglected to mention that the vast majority of those public comments urged the commission to look at the growing evidence that cannabis can be a valuable tool in the battle against opioid abuse, nor did the report itself address cannabis in any way.

Christie will leave office as governor with approval numbers well below 20%, but nonetheless he has high hopes of failing upwards, either as the nation’s next Drug Czar or perhaps—why not?—as a lobbyist for his good friends at Big Pharma.

New Jersey Roots
The idea that New Jersey might move directly from this sorry state of affairs to full recreational cannabis legalization gives the impression of rapid change, when in reality it’s the result of slow-and-steady work done by countless dedicated activists over many decades. Occasionally, these advocates make headlines—like the father of a two-year-old with epilepsy who confronted Chris Christie at a 2013 campaign stop, saying “Please don’t let my daughter die, Governor”—but for the most part it’s thankless work. So let me take this opportunity to publicly say thank you, on behalf of myself and many others who will directly or indirectly benefit.

To brush up on that relevant history, and talk over old times, I called up Rick Cusick, my former colleague at High Times (he was associate publisher), the officiant at my wedding, a board member of NJ NORML, a lifelong New Jersey resident, and now one of the brains behind Whoopi and Maya, Whoopi Goldberg’s medical cannabis company.

Cusick started our conversation by taking me through every dirty trick and broken promise Chris Christie used to delay and subvert implementation of New Jersey’s medical cannabis law, resulting in the “onerous” system his protege decried in the debate.

“An old girlfriend of mine from high school is in a wheelchair because of MS,” my old smoking buddy told me, “and she still buys pot on the street, because it’s a lot less expensive and easier to get.”

Cusick started getting high in the 1970s in East Orange, NJ, where he was well known around town as the son of a local police detective. He saw firsthand the racial disparity in cannabis policing. He also felt a target on his own back, along with the weight of keeping his love for Mary Jane a secret from his old man.

“Hiding that you were smoking weed, or that you were stoned, was often as intense as the high itself.”

That really hit home. I started using cannabis to deal with anxiety and it worked, except that I had to add a whole new worry: getting arrested.

I’ve been in California for seven years now, long enough that every cell in my body has replaced itself. I live in one of the most cannabis-friendly communities in the country. I am literally totally legally puffing on a bowl right now as I write this, sitting in my backyard, listening to my neighbor taking dabs and coughing. And yet I still carry that old, intractable sense of fear with me, which must have worked its way right into my DNA.

I cried the day I got my first medical cannabis recommendation in California. And I fully expect to do so again the first time I walk into a store in New Jersey, show them my driver’s license, and walk out with a few grams of Pine Barren Kush.

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